Big day for a top Westie
Saturday, 5th May, 2012
By Darrin Manuel
Spending 199 games in West’s backline during one of the most difficult periods in the club’s history would be no easy task, yet Brenton Malthouse always seems to be smiling.
On the field he has been a mainstay in a defensive half that has often found itself under siege, and away from the playing arena he is affable and always in good humour.
The big backman was as cheerful as ever on Thursday as he prepared for today’s game which will see him become just the eighth Robin to reach 200 games.
It is a fitting reward for a player who has stuck with the Robins since he crossed over from Central at the age of 13.
The 31-year-old said he honed his skills in the early days by practicing with his brother Michael at the front of the family home.
“We had a pretty good set up. The front yard is about 40 metres long and 15 metres wide so it was really ideal for footy, cricket... and some smashed windows for mum.”
Malthouse played his first senior game in round 4, 1998 - a heavy loss against Central under coach Mark White. Unfortunately such losses were often common for a club that is still seeking its first flag since 1990.
Malthouse admitted that constantly playing in losing teams had been trying but added he was glad that he had stuck with the club he loves.
“I suppose you’d say we’ve had a pretty lean period,” he said. “I had a look the other day and I think in my time North have won six flags, South have won five, Central have won three and we’d have around 10 wooden spoons.
“It’s been hard and I had been tempted to move elsewhere, but I stayed just out of loyalty I think.
“When you don’t have much success it would be easy for people to just throw it in and not be very supportive but we’ve got a great group of supporters.”
But Malthouse said there had been many high points in his career and good times shared with teammates.
“Playing in the 2007 grand final was a highlight even though we lost, and I actually like playing in other players’ milestone games,” he said.
“I remember Neville Slater’s 250th. We won that by a few points and there’s been a fair few others. I get a real kick out of it.”
Malthouse said another memorable moment was lining up on South legend Brad Brooks.
“I was playing on him in the game where he kicked the record 18 goals. I’m not sure if you’d class that as a highlight or a lowlight,” he laughed.
“A few of us played on him that day and I was on him for a bit, but I think I ended up copping the responsibility for most of his goals.”
Malthouse listed Brooks along with Hayden Price (North), Brendan Cullen (Central), Tim Ferguson (West), Trevor Rynne (West) and Anthony Murgatroyd (South) as the best players he has taken the field with.
Asked how he’d like to be remembered as a footballer, Malthouse’s reply was honest and somewhat understated.
“Just as someone who went out there and did his job. I’m not very flashy or classy and I’m probably not going to do anything too outstanding.”
Malthouse thanked his family, the club and its supporters for all their help throughout his career and said he hoped to keep playing for a few more seasons yet.
“I’d be lost without football in the winter, and it goes quick so you have to enjoy it while you can.”